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Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Joni Earley
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/6/2005
 

Lighting for Model's Portfolio


My son's girlfriend has asked me to do some head shots of her for a modeling portfolio she's putting together. I have no special lighting equipment and wonder if anyone could give me any ideas on how/where to do this shoot and what type of background to use? My camera is a Nikon D70, and I do have a tripod.

5/7/2008 1:09:45 AM

 
W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Hi Joni,
The tripod is good! Use a window as your main light source to light your subject from one side, and fill/soften/open up the shadows with a D-I-Y reflector on the opposite side of the subject. Experiment with it, placing it closer or further away.
Choose an empty wall as background, at least 4/5 feet behind the subject. Shoot Raw, so that you can adjust exposure after the fact in Photoshop, and shoot as many frames as you can.
Have fun!

5/7/2008 6:05:02 AM

 
Joni Earley
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/6/2005
  Wow! Thanks for the quick reply to my question! Great advice and I will definitely try what you suggest! I always shoot in Raw so that's a given. What sort of materials could be used as a reflector that one would have around the house?

5/7/2008 7:29:08 AM

 
Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Joni,
No fancy lighting equipment is needed to take great portraits in a home setting. However, studio lighting makes everything far more convenient. You can make do with window lighting and reflectors. Reflectors can be foam-core insulation purchased at Home Depot or cardboard covered with aluminum foil.
At Home Depot, you can buy several clamp-on lighting fixtures, with or without aluminum reflectors. I suggest the with-out reflector design with porcelain sockets. Buy several R-40 bulbs; these are indoor floods with built-in reflectors. You will need stands to clamp the fixtures on. With a little forethought, you can make do, clamping to doors and pole lamps and the like. Set one lamp high and off to the side to simulate midday sun. Place another close to the camera to act as a fill to soften shadows. Place another behind the subject aimed at the background.
For portraiture, focus on the eyes and use a large aperture like f/5.6. Large apertures yield shallow depth-of-field as this the convention for portraiture.
Because the learning curve is quite steep for indoor lighting, my advice is to shift the venue to an outdoor setting. Use parks with trees and fountains and gardens as your backdrop. Try to work on an overcast day or in the open in shade cast by a building or under the trees. Take along a couple of friends armed with sheets of foam-core. The idea is to use reflectors to fill shadows. You can also shoot near white walls, they serve as excellent reflectors.
As to focal length: Use a long lens. The D70 sports an imaging chip size APS-C. This format is 66% the size of the chip used in full frame models. The normal focal length for this camera is 30mm. likely you purchased with the 18-70mm zoom lens. Note that 30mm is about the center of the zoom range. This is true because when set to 30mm the view that results is considered "normal". Longer is brushing telephoto range and shorter the wide-angle range. For the type of work you described, you are advised to shoot at 70mm - i.e. maximum zoom. Best would be 75mm or longer but the advantage will be slight so donít go shopping unless these sessions become routine.
Hope this helps,
Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)

5/7/2008 8:16:44 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com

member since: 12/13/2005
  Hi Joni, Alan and W have some great advise. I would just like to add to make notice of shadows. Some people's features look better with hard light and strong shadows while others may look better with diffused light and soft shadows. Again, experiment as much as possible to get the most flattering light. Have fun...

5/7/2008 8:23:05 AM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  Hey Joni, I shoot models for agencies in SF/LA. The reason I got accepted is due to my ability to properly light the subject. When shooting for a portfolio, you MUST light the face properly so the agency representative gets a complete idea of what you look like on camera. You do NOT want anything to artsy with shadows when starting a portfolio, you want a clean simple photo that doesn't distract from the clients vision ... and that is the major mistake I've seen. I've seen models get turned down with amazing photos because they're just not what the agency is looking for ... you'll hear too commercial ... only good for editorial, etc. When you're shooting for a model's portfolio, makeup and hair are very important as well. You need makeup, even on males, but less is best.

5/7/2008 5:53:15 PM

 
Joni Earley
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/6/2005
  I'm overwhelmed with the responses I've gotten from all of you. Thank you so much! I will definitely have fun and be challenged by everything you've suggested! Perhaps I'll even send you a pic or two when all is said and done. Truly, I'm grateful to all of you for your help!!!

5/7/2008 7:54:38 PM

 
Allison W. Laster

member since: 1/9/2007
  hey joni,
i attended a lighting essentials workshop a month ago and we work with natural light set-ups. my favorite and the easiest was the model with her back to a large window and two large foam core boards (you can get these at Michael's craft store) placed in front of her at an angle (about 45*). this way the natural light from behind her was reflected back on to her face in a very even way. the thing that caught my attention when using the reflectors was the fact that they were right up against the subject. so don't forget to get the reflector close to the model. I hope this helps. I if you have any questions or would like to see an example please let me know.
allison

5/13/2008 5:35:25 AM

 
Joni Earley
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/6/2005
  Great advice, Allison! And thanks so much! I'd love to see an example if you'd like to send one along!

5/13/2008 8:08:46 AM

 
Allison W. Laster

member since: 1/9/2007
 
 
 
hey joni! here is the example of the setup I was talking about. slight sharpening and boost to contrast.

5/13/2008 7:16:23 PM

 
Allison W. Laster

member since: 1/9/2007
 
 
  lindsey at the window
lindsey at the window
© Allison W. Laster
Nikon D70S Digital...
 
 
hey joni! here is the example of the setup I was talking about. slight sharpening and boost to contrast. because the background is blown out it gives the shot a commercial look to it. very easy set up. hope this helps.

5/13/2008 7:16:46 PM

 
Joni Earley
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/6/2005
  What a gorgeous shot! It really helps for me to SEE what people are talking about so thanks so much for sending this! Very helpful!

5/13/2008 7:25:33 PM

 

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